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Category: Interesting or Cool

Fractal moving art

Fractal moving art

Pouff creates moving images using fractal math, and makes their own music to go with. Their YouTube channel is loaded with colorful and hypnotic visuals, like this clip of intricate, organic looking structures, accented by brilliant backlighting.

10 years of staring at the sun

10 years of staring at the sun

As of June 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory — SDO — has now been watching the Sun non-stop for over a full decade. From its orbit in space around the Earth, SDO has gathered 425 million high-resolution images of the Sun, amassing 20 million gigabytes of data over the past 10 years.

Kyoto Jidai Matsuri Festival

Kyoto Jidai Matsuri Festival

I was lucky enough to see this parade on one of my trips to Japan. I didn’t know so many of the characters had such colorful back stories and it covered such a long period of Japanese history.

Oregon 1986

Oregon 1986

Set in the fictional city of Providence Oaks, Oregon in 1986, Lake is an upcoming, chill-looking game where you deliver mail and get to know the town’s quirky locals.

Plundervolt

Plundervolt

Computer security is hard – even when there is hardware dedicated for the purpose.

Overclocking has been an interesting field for computer design and providing really interesting knobs to tune performance. This is done by pushing a CPU, memory, and other components past their normal voltage and frequency limits by adding cooling solutions or exploiting engineering headroom limits.

Undervolting is the opposite. It lowers power and/or frequency. This can be used constructively to save power on your laptop if it isn’t doing anything. But if you starve it enough, you end up with memory corruption and crashes. When done in certain ways, you can cause faults and corruption without crashing the CPU – leaking secrets.

Plundervolt is one such exploit. Give it a watch.

PS5 architecture

PS5 architecture

Some interesting tidbits here – but those of us familiar with the technology actually see that they’re borrowing a good bit of their core tech from current PC technology. It’s worth watching this video, then watching the one at the bottom of this posting to cut through the marketing spin and understanding.

  • Storage (5:05)
    • 825GB of SSD storage that runs at 5.5GB/s on a 12 channel PCIe 4.0 interface.
    • Dedicated Rad Game Tools Kraken decompressor hardware for optimized loading.
    • Dedicated DMA controller and memory mapper to offload the copying of resources directly to memory
    • Coherency hardware to prevent GPU data flushes.
    • All this happens invisibly to the developer. You simply point to where you want a resource to be loaded and the loading engine hardware does all the work for you.
    • Allowing external hard drives and 3rd party SSD’s
  • GPU (23:50)
    • AMD RDNA 2 based GPU running up to 2.23GHz. 36 compute units. 10.28 Teraflops. 16GB of DDR6 memory running at a bandwidth of 448GB/s.
    • Xbox Series X = AMD RDNA 2 – 52 CU’s at 1.825GHz
    • Likely 36 RDNA 2 EU’s (CU’s)
    • Geometry engine – sounds almost identical to mesh/geometry shader pipelines that have existed for some time.
    • Ray Tracing – basically the same as what will be available on PC
    • They prioritize higher frequency than more CU’s since higher frequency . Therefore, their GPU will run continuously in boost mode setting a specific power level and let frequency go up and down.
    • Instead of basing performance on CPU temp or ambient temp – which leads to uneven performance in varying temperature environments – they use CPU and GPU power to shift compute back and forth between CPU and GPU. See AMD SmartShift. Overall power stays constant but can shift back and forth between CPU/GPU via variable frequencies.
    • The most fascinating part is that workloads go through a ‘model SOC’ that defines and sets the realtime power and performance characteristics – producing the exact same clock timings on every PS5. This performance is VERY reproducible and hence games should perform the same on any PS5 whether its running in a fridge or in the desert. This system relies upon the special cooling solution for the platform.
  • CPU
    • AMD Zen 2 CPU capped at 3.5 Ghz – 8 physical cores/16 threads
    • XBox Series X = Zen 2 CPU at 3.8GHz – 8 physical cores with SMT
  • Audio
    • Want to use the 3D audio lessons they learned with Playstation VR for ALL devices – from mono, stereo, headsets, sound bars, to full 5.x and 7.x surround systems.
    • Unique HRTF to process and give 3D locality information to the audio playback = Tempest 3D Audiotech engine. Engine can even handle moving sources.
    • Will provide 5 different HRTF’s but are considering the possibility of taking pictures/video of your ears to model your HRTF.
  • Backwards Compatibility (23:70)
    • Expecting most of the top 100 PS3 titles to work on PS4

Here’s another excellent video that does a better job cutting through the hype and pointing to the underlying technology they’re likely utilizing.

Rotary dial smart phone

Rotary dial smart phone

Justine is a woman after my own heart. There is a growing body of evidence that our world of non-stop social media is actually detrimental to your mental health – and especially the mental health of young people. Studies are increasingly showing strong correlations to the amount of time spent on social media and problems such as poor self esteem, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

But before you call us luddites, know that she develops instrumentation for cosmology and astrophysics at a national lab on the east coast. I develop software at a Fortune 50 company.

I wanted to make my own phone because I was sick of other options. I don’t like smart phones. I don’t like texting. I wanted something that would be a function phone that would be entirely mine and as tactile as possible while having better reception.

I don’t like modern smartphones because they facilitate this culture of hyper connectivity as well as being super finicky. It cannot text – and that’s by design.

Justine